Burundian troops serving with the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), on Saturday joined their country to celebrate 61 years of independence from colonial rule.
The ceremony held in the capital Mogadishu was attended by senior ATMIS and UN officials among them the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Mohamed El-Amine Souef; UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, Anita Kiki Gbeho, Head of United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), Aisa Kacyira, ATMIS Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Sam Okiding and the Police Commissioner, Hillary Sao Kanu.
Also in attendance was ATMIS Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans, Marius Ngendabanka; Italian Ambassador, Alberto Vecchi; Acting Uganda Ambassador Maj. Gen (Rtd) Nathan Mugisha, and his Kenyan counterpart, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Thomas Chepkuto.
In his address, the SRCC, Amb. Souef, cited Burundi’s key contributions to peace and stability in Africa, especially in Somalia and Central Africa.
“Burundi has contributed immensely to the ideal universal peace mainly through political solutions anchored on mediation and constant engagement in favour of peace and security,” the SRCC said.
“Burundi has never resisted investing in peace operations which for many people represent the unique hope for finding lasting peace like in Somalia and Central Africa,” he added.
Echoing the SRCC remarks, Ms. Gbeho, lauded Burundian peacekeepers for their courage and sacrifice and pledged the UN’s commitment to continue supporting the AU Mission.
“With more than 3,000 Burundian troops committed to the largest AU peace support operation, you are making a difference daily to the security of the Somali people,” she noted.
On his part, Lt. Gen. Okiding hailed Burundian troops for pacifying Somalia and protecting the civilian population in their area of responsibility.
“The Burundi contingent in Somalia has been at the forefront in fostering peace and stability in their Areas of Responsibility, and we commend you for your selfless efforts,” the Force Commander said.
Maj Gen. Marius Ngendabanka, who hails from Burundi, outlined the contributions of Burundian troops since their deployment to Somalia in 2007 and reiterated their commitment to the peacebuilding process.
“The Burundi contingent, currently deployed in Sector Five in Middle Shabelle, has demonstrated its support to Africa’s peace and freedom initiatives hence serving as an example to other African countries,” said Maj. Gen. Ngendabanka.
A similar event was held in Jowhar where Sector Five Commander, Brig. Gen. Jean Claude Niyiburana, led Burundian troops and other ATMIS, UN and local administration officials to mark the day.
Burundi is one of the ATMIS Troop Contributing Countries alongside Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).